How to Make a Traditional Lahmacun Sfiha Meat Pies
I grew up with these flavors Lahmacun (Lahm bi ajeen) or Sfiha, hot out of the oven!
What is Lahmacun?
It is a kind of Middle Eastern pizza. Warm, soft dough with the spiced meat spread evenly on top served with a few squeezes of lemon, parsley, tomatoes and olives.
My grandmother used to make “Armenian Sphiha” which is a thin dough topped with a spiced meat mixture.
Prepare Lahmacun Dough
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoon fast rising yeast (or 1 packet)
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup warm milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
6 1/3 cups all purpose flour
Prepare Lahmacun Topping
1 package ground beef (500g approx)
4 onions, peeled, roughly chopped
3 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 large handful (bunch) fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Dissolve the sugar with the warm water and the yeast in a large bowl. Let sit and get a little bubbly for 10 minutes.
Add warm milk, vegetable oil, plain yogurt and mix with spatula. Add flour 1 cup at a time and use the kneading attachment on mixer (I use the KitchenAid Classic) and mix slowly. Increase the spread to 5 or 6 and knead for 5-7 min or until a soft ball-like dough forms.
Remove bowl from mixer. Add a 1/2 tsp to a tsp of olive oil and coat the ball of dough and bowl. Cover with a towel and let sit on the counter where there is no draft. Let sit for 1 hour to rise.
Mix the topping ingredients. Pulse the tomatoes in the food processor ( I drained a bit of the water from tomatoes but not all of it) and set aside. Pulse the onions (I drained all of the water from the onions) set aside. Pulse the peppers, tomato sauce and tomato paste and set aside. Pulse the parsley and the garlic and set aside. Mix all the ingredients pulsed along with the spices in a big bowl.
Preheat oven to broil 500.
When dough is ready, punch dough and knead for 1 min. Then divide into small balls. I had about 14 balls.
Place on a clean counter and cover with a towel.
Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter where you will be rolling the dough.
Use a rolling pin and roll it out very thin (the size of the bottom of a 10in round pan).
Set a round 11 inch cast iron skillet on the stove on medium low heat.
Place the rolled out dough in pan and spread the 2-3 heaping spoons of the meat mixture on top.
Spread evenly then let cook in pan for 3 minutes.
Transfer to baking sheet and broil the top of the lahmacun in oven for 3-4 min or until the meat is cooked.
Repeat with the rest of the dough. I stacked all of the pies on top of each other and covered with foil to keep them warm.
Serve hot right away.
Spices can be adjusted to your taste. If you like to spicy, add more garlic and pepper flakes.
If you want to keep it mild, add less.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon, parsley, and olives.
Roll the Lahmacun pies up and enjoy – sahtien!
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